Welcome to CFile’s Year-End Review! We’re revisiting our favorite posts going back to when we first started publishing. They’re arranged in no particular order. We’re not commenting on the quality of what we did (or didn’t) include. Rather, we’re reminiscing about all of the fine things ceramics has given us since our founding. Think of it as a victory lap after a fantastic couple of years. We may revisit some of these lists in the spring for a special project, so please let us know what you think in the comments.
For as tactile as clay is, it works surprisingly well in video.
The crew sat down with children at the Yida refugee camp as they were mixing water and soil and shaping the tiny figures with their hands. The forms start out innocently enough; the children show the reporters domestic scenes of tables, kettles and stoves. The miniatures are landscaped with flowers and blades of grass. As they relate more of their experiences about being caught in the fighting between government forces and rebels (such as one 11-year-old girl’s tale of seeing her father shot to death), the crew starts to introduce more sinister forms the children sculpted: crude airplanes, tanks and machine guns, soldiers armed with stubby-looking rocket propelled grenades. Their interview is cut short at one point as an airplane drops bombs within sight of the camp.
Lugo, a ceramic and graffiti artist from Philadelphia, walloped the crowd with a 15 minute speech; weaving his background, his body of work and poetry into one cohesive thread. His work is often views of race and poverty, filtered through the lens of his personal life. Lugo runs at the crowd right out of the gate with a harrowing story of child abuse and humiliation at the hands of a racist school teacher and a power tripping jail warden who wanted to make Lugo the subject of his own impromptu “Scared Straight” program. But even with the grim background that informs his work, Lugo resists the (more than understandable) urge to write society off. He excels in being hopeful, taking opportunities to educate and make connections with people.
Yaholomi tells us the rocks were ground into a powder, turned into a liquid and poured into plaster molds. The rocks are naturally made out of different kinds of metal and glass. Yahalomi was fascinated with the unique sound and wanted to find a way to make music with it.
“I learned to look at forms as objects of contemplation. That appreciation of form stayed with me and I never imagined back then that I would be making pots.”
The rest of the jar’s life was documented on Buick’s blog. In addition to the jar atop Carn Treliwyd, Buick has gifted other pieces of work to the landscape, a process he calls “veneration.” There are additional jars and bells, all of which he documents on his blog.
Wodkins told CFile, “To give you some context, I need to tell that I’ve got kinda personal issues with Mr. Putin. I believe hundreds of millions of people including most Russians share these issues. Russians have a complex attitude to the Father of nation. One could argue it’s a social Oedipus Complex. Regardless if you agree or not, he has been heavily affecting our personal lives for the last couple of years, and promptly affecting every Russian’s life for the previous 13 years.”
The above video comes to us from Kate Johnston, a potter in Seagrove, North Carolina whose wood-fired works are inspired by Art Deco design.
It’s an instructive video, to be sure; Kate shows us the exacting process of creating one of her vessels. This time-lapse video was shot over the course of three days, a minute for each day. We watched the design bloom before our eyes.
This video, which we initially found on the Facebook group El Invernadero Creativo, is both educational and meditative. For five rich minutes we are surrounded by the heat of a kiln, the tang of dust in our nostrils, and the sharp “chip-chip-chipping” sound of chisels.
Furman was in fine form for his 2014-2015 residency at the British School at Rome. His project, The Roman Singularity weaves art, architecture, the Internet, astronomical themes, science-fiction and archetypes of human thought extending down through history. It was a massive undertaking. His project combined multi-media elements including ceramics, text, animation, film and hand drawings. Furman shows us that the spirit of Rome in its heyday persists and grows even in 2015.
“With the dawn of social media comes a new generation of artists who innately grasp the power of video not just as a tool to document process, but as an inextricable element of their work. Recorded Matter is an exploration of the range of expression that video offers—from viral videos showing artworks being used (or more often, abused) to mysterious inquiries into material and philosophical properties of clay.”
Akel, with his short sermon Fluxos/Flows, captures clay in this transitory state. It never rests, never stops moving. The only constant in its nature is the continual generative energy that assumes shape and then immediately recedes. The longer you watch, the more you see behind the clay to the chaotic creative force that guides it; its cycles are like the tides. The shape of the Mobius strip shows Akel’s hand, but only so you can see the Mobius strip guiding every iteration of the clay in front of you.
Ceramic Displacement is a 1979 film by Fred Stodder and potter Thom Chambers that seems similar to but predates viral internet videos by a few decades. Stodder, armed with a Super 8 camera, filmed Chambers as the potter shaped ceramic vessels on a wheel in the back of a Volkswagen van driving around Laguna Beach. The vessels Chambers shaped were “donated” to the environment, which in some instances meant tossing them from the door of the moving van. Stodder made the public a part of this work by filming their reactions as the van drove past. Their confusion often gives way to amusement and creates some great shots, such as the woman who stares with a cigarette dangling from her mouth.
This ambitious project comes to us from Primitive Technology, a blog by a man who makes complex things from scratch using no modern tools or materials. The creator of the site says that although he lives in a modern home and eats modern food, he likes to learn how people in ancient times built and made things. The hobby is also cheap and helps you stay fit, for reasons that you will soon see.
If only the title of this post were entirely true. The Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona is known for a couple things: the first is that it is the most grandiose project ever attempted by master architect Antoni Gaudí, the second is that after nearly 130-years it’s still not finished. Generations have lived and died since the start of this project. For comparison, the ancient Egyptians could have built nearly seven pyramids in the time it’s taken us to build this one half-finished church. If we’re lucky, we’ll see the place completed around 2025.
Wearing body and skin protection, the group collected the radioactive mud from the lake and transported it to their London workshop. Here, Kevin Callaghan processed the mud mixture of acids, heavy metals, carcinogens, and radioactive material into a workable clay and threw three tall vases.
“Each [ceramic vessel] is proportioned as a traditional Ming vase,” Unknown Fields Division explains, “and is made from the amount of toxic waste created in the production of three items of technology—a smartphone, a featherweight laptop and the cell of a smart car battery.”
You may ask yourself: Wait, wouldn’t porcelain skateboards break?
Yes. Yes, they do. They break extravagantly, drawing no small amount blood in the process. It’s an interesting relationship between design and the user. A skateboarder who knows what he or she is doing appears to be one with their board. In the video we see talented skateboarders pulling off tricks only to have their ride nope out on them by shattering into thousands of pieces in the crucial moment. The rider sticks the landing and it is accented by an explosive instant of destruction.
Beth Cavener’s sculptures pry at those uncomfortable, awkward edges between animal and human. She digs at human psychology with subtly personified creatures in apparent states of fear, conflict, and submission.
Renowned scholar Garth Clark Interviews sculptor Beth Cavener in the space of her latest exhibit at Peters Projects in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They discuss her inspirations, techniques, and personal experiences that drive her contemporary ceramic art.
Love contemporary ceramic art + design videos? Let us know in the comments.